No city has had such poetry and praise lavished it on it as Venice. In 1844, Dickens wrote, “the gorgeous and wonderful reality of Venice is beyond the fancy of the wildest dreamer.” And the great City in the Sea has still got it: a unique, unsurpassable collection of architectural and cultural riches, the best streets in the world to get lost among, and the deathless thrill of seeing those alleys of water coiling around the buildings, from great palazzos to crumbling old apartment blocks. There are some mandatory stops for visitors: San Marco and the Grand Canal, for example. But it would be a travesty to not take time to explore some backstreets here, so atmospheric and still, a watered warren of rose and tawny homes. Here’s where you best appreciate Shelley’s sentiment that in Venice “structures rise, as from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand”.